The Motley Fool: Apple makes Microsoft’s Zune a paperweight

“When I purchased a (brown!) Microsoft Zune about a month ago, I figured I was getting a couple of things. For one, a pretty decent media player, with a few key features iPod lacked: a prettier user interface, a subscription music model, and a bigger screen,” Seth Jayson writes for The Motley Fool. “For another thing, I assumed I was getting a potential collectors’ item — something along the lines of an Edsel.”

Jayson writes, “But I didn’t realize just how quickly the Zune would be made into a paperweight. It only took about a month, as it turns out. Steve Jobs did it yesterday, with his unveiling of the latest Apple iPod.”

“He didn’t unveil an iPod yesterday, you say? I beg to differ,” Jayson writes. “Sure, the product he showed off was a phone, something so expensive and so limited in capacity that it won’t — can’t — have the same traction as the iPod. But it’s pretty clear what the next generation of iPods can (and likely will) be.”

Jayson writes, “Apple simply needs to tear out the pricey phone guts, thicken the form factor to accommodate the greater storage capacity of miniature hard drives, and bam, the Zune has no advantages left. The iPod’s screen will be bigger, its user interface will be prettier, and if Apple leaves that Wi-Fi chip inside, it can easily enable player-to-player file-sharing and hotspot downloads, killing the Zune’s alleged ‘social’ advantage. This also makes an instant relic out of SanDisk’s latest Wi-Fi enabled Sansa Connect model.”

“Apple gets the details right from the beginning. Jobs and his designers know that very small annoyances add up to very big headaches, so they eliminate as many hassles as possible,” Jayson writes. “The Zune is typical Microsoft: some interesting ideas for improvement lost, because the people making the device didn’t think things through all the way.”

Jayson writes, “There’s a side of me, as a Microsoft shareholder, that hopes Microsoft sticks a fork in the Zune right now and admits that it’s done. Stop wasting money on this initiative. You’re late to the game, and you brought out a nice device with some good, new features, but you blew it on the details. Meanwhile, Apple has jumped another two years ahead with its latest offering. Admit you’re beaten… Besides, the sooner the Zune disappears, the sooner I can hawk it as a collector’s item on eBay. Let’s hope it gets me enough for a snazzy new iPod.”

Full article here.
Microsoft (and everyone else) is more than just two years behind. Apple has over 200 patents on iPhone – and therefore on future iPods and other future devices – and they plan to defend those patents vigorously. Sorry, Microsoft et al. no copying this time! As for Zune, it was a paperweight on the day of release, no help from Apple needed.

Related articles:
eWeek: Apple iPhone fallout: ‘They must be crying in Nokia-ville and other telephony towns today’ – January 10, 2007
Top 10 things to love and top 10 things to hate about the Apple iPhone – January 10, 2007
How Apple kept the iPhone top secret for 30 months – January 10, 2007
Hands-on with Apple’s iPhone – January 10, 2007
The only thing really wrong with Apple’s iPhone is its name – January 09, 2007
Is Apple building ‘The Device?’ [revisited] – January 09, 2007
Analyst Bajarin: Apple’s iPhone and Apple TV are industry game changers – January 09, 2007
Time: ‘iPhone could crush cell phone market pitilessly beneath the weight of its own superiority’ – January 09, 2007
Analyst: Apple iPhone should be given its own category – ‘brilliantphone’ – January 09, 2007
Cingular to use Synchronoss Technologies’ platform for Apple iPhone – January 09, 2007
iPhone photos from Apple’s Macworld Expo booth – January 09, 2007
Enderle: Apple’s iPhone is going to do very well – January 09, 2007
Apple debuts iPhone: touchscreen mobile phone + widescreen iPod + Internet communicator – January 09, 2007

Microsoft’s Zune selling like snotcakes – November 15, 2006
Dvorak: ‘If anything is doomed to failure, it’s Microsoft’s Zune’ – November 14, 2006
Opinion: More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Microsoft pulls plug on Zune – July 25, 2006

51 Comments

  1. “Sure, the product he showed off was a phone, something so expensive and so limited in capacity that it won’t — can’t — have the same traction as the iPod.”

    Please make a note of this quote for future reference – say, between late 2008-mid-2009.

  2. I keep seeing Charlie Brown at Halloween going from door to door. At each door his friends cry out, “I got an iPod Shuffle!” “I got a Nano!” “I got an iPod with video!” “I got an iPhone!” And at each door, poor Charlie Brown says quietly, “I got a Zune. *sigh*”

    MDN Magic Word: piece — “Now every one can see what a piece of shit Zune is.”

  3. “I have a warm and fuzzy feeling inside”

    I do too and I don’t even like phones. I hope Apple comes out with a nice dumbphone (that’ll still be smarter than everyone else’s ‘smartphone’) for about $150. Then I might be able to talk myself into buying one.

    Unless I get lucky and win the lotto.

  4. let’s have some fun: predict the widescreen iPod price, specs and release date.

    I’ll go with: $399, 100GB, March.

    The only oddity about this is that all those cool new media iPhone features would make it to the iPod first. It would be odd for Apple to wait until June to release a new iPod though.

  5. You’re just talking about what Apple has done to the Zune, you might want to look at what Apple has done to Motorola. Motorola lagged on their chip development, they lagged on their design of the iTunes phone, and now they, like MS will eventually cease to be relevant.

    Holler back, young-en’s!

  6. Yeah, people are going to be trying, and failing, to copy the iPhone. Though I expect a new iPod that is more than an iPod. It’s a music player, plus WiFi computer. You can browse the net, email, etc, plus watch movies.

    That would be a killer device. I thought it was interesting that the iPhone supposedly switches between WiFi and EDGE. That is really cool.

  7. The difference between Apple’s offerings and those it’s competitor’s is…

    Apple is doing design and calling it a new product.
    The competitor’s are doing parts integration and calling it something new.

    There was a time (the 90’s to be exact) that the public was very technically un-savvy. They did not know what parts were out there. So grabbing a bunch of parts ..combining them and calling it a new product ( a’la Dell) was the rage.

    Now parts integration won’t do for cutting edge anymore. People want designs that answer what they want and they need out of the technology (the parts). Just having a feature isn’t good enough. The feature has to be useful. Who care’s about Wi-Fi music players if the Wi-Fi does not work as it is needed to.

    Just my $0.02

    P.S. I still wish Apple would of introduced a new full size Mac yesterday.

  8. I want to know when we will see announcements on OSX 10.5, iLife ’07 and such. Will each of the coming months bring us special announcements?

    Back to the iPhone, how will this work with existing car iPod connections? I have an ’06 Scion xA with factory iPod connection in the console. When plugged in I can take over the music portion of the iPod from the stereo and steering wheel controls. The screen on the iPod simply says “Scion: OK to Disconnect.” So will I not be able to plug in the iPhone into my system for music and be able to receive phone calls? Does it make sense for someone driving a Scion to own a $500 phone?

  9. I would LOVE to have been in the zune development room this first thing morning. I’ll bet they’re all STILL just looking at each other with blank expressions on their faces!

    I can hear them now, “who new? I didn’t know, did you know?” “Hey man, we were only doing what we were told!”

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